Human milk oligosaccharides are known to play a role in protection against certain infectious diseases. Previous reports indicate that the content of human milk oligosaccharides varies widely among individuals at term but such information on preterm milk is lacking. After removal of the fat, protein and most of the lactose from non-pooled human milk samples, a total neutral oligosaccharide fraction was isolated by ion-exchange chromatography followed by gel filtration. A Dionex high-performance anion-exchange chromatography system equipped with a pulsed electrometric detector was then employed to measure the levels of ten neutral oligosaccharides in the individual milk samples. Twenty-three milk samples from thirteen mothers who delivered at a mean gestational age of 29·5 (sd 3·1) weeks were collected between days 0 and 33 of lactation, and compared with three samples of term milk from two mothers. The ranges of the total and individual levels of the ten neutral oligosaccharides in preterm milk were similar to those in term milk. Further, as previously described in term milk, preterm milk exhibited a quantitative individual variation. This variation was independent of the gestational age, day of lactation, and postconceptional age. In conclusion, levels of ten neutral oligosaccharides did not differ between preterm and term human milk.